With oil prices hitting $110 per barrel this week, the corresponding increase at the fuel pumps will increase travel costs for everyone, but it's unlikely to deter country artists and fans from seeking the ultimate concert experience this summer.
George Strait is wrapping up his 2008 tour, but most country artists are focusing their tours on the warmer months. Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, Sugarland and Toby Keith are among the acts already hard at work, but tours are being planned by Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson. Brad Paisley recently completed a tour and will start another one in June. And the king of the summer tours -- Kenny Chesney -- is back on the road for a series of shows at amphitheaters and major stadiums.
Here's a brief rundown of the tour plans of 10 of country music's most popular acts:
He's been performing some informal shows at clubs near college campuses, but Chesney's Poets & Pirates tour with LeAnn Rimes kicks off April 18-19 at the Mohegan Sun hotel and casino in Uncasville, Conn. Fourteen stadium dates are scheduled featuring five different talent lineups. Among those featured at selected stadiums are Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn, Gary Allan, Luke Bryan, Big & Rich, Sammy Hagar and Rimes. All in all, Chesney is now set to do 37 shows from coast to coast before closing his tour on Sept. 13 at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis with Urban, Rimes and Allan.
Jackson returns to the road on April 11 to headline a stadium show in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as part of the Gridiron Bash at the University of Alabama. The bulk of his tour dates begin in Canada with an April 16 show in Calgary, Alberta. Three other Canadian dates follow before he begins the U.S. leg on May 1 in Laredo, Texas. His concert schedule now extends through July 25 in Kelseyville, Calif.
Keith is busy this week in Texas with a Thursday night (March 13) appearance at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He has another 20 concerts scheduled between now and a Sept. 19 show in Albuquerque, N.M.
McGraw warms up for his summer roadwork with an April 27 performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and a May 4 appearance at the Stagecoach Festival in Indio, Calif., before officially launching his tour on May 9 in Tampa, Fla. He has dates scheduled through July 6 in Pittsburgh.
Paisley announced at the recent Country Radio Seminar in Nashville that his 2008 tour will feature Jewel, Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough. With 42 shows currently booked, the tour begins June 11 in Albuquerque, N.M. Paisley's schedule extends through an Oct. 18 appearance in San Antonio.
With Taylor Swift opening the shows, Rascal Flatts return to the road with five Canadian dates beginning March 24 in Calgary, Alberta. Their U.S. dates resume April 4 in Portland, Ore., and continue through Aug. 30 in Burgettstown, Pa.
Her latest album is titled Carnival Ride, but her schedule is more of a juggling act as she co-headlines a tour with Keith Urban and headlines her own tour with opening act Josh Turner. Her shows with Turner resume Tuesday (March 18) in Bethlehem, Pa., and continue through a May 25 show in Nampa, Idaho. Her tour schedule also includes a July 19 appearance at the Country Jam Festival in Eau Claire, Wis., and an Aug. 8 show at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis.
Urban's tour with Carrie Underwood continues this week in California with shows Wednesday (March 12) in Sacramento and Thursday (March 13) in Anaheim. In addition to that ongoing tour, Urban will be heading to Australia for six dates beginning with a March 20 appearance at the Blues & Roots Festival in Byron Bay. He has shows booked through his Sept. 13 stop at Chesney's stadium show in Indianapolis.
The duo of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush will be performing several shows in Australia and New Zealand before returning to the U.S. for a homecoming at Atlanta's Fox Theater on April 3-4. Their summer is filled with numerous performances at fairs and festivals in Iowa, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, Colorado, California, Ohio, Wyoming and Oregon. Their schedule currently extends through an Aug. 3 appearance at the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta.
The 18-year-old is continuing to work a heavy tour schedule, including an extensive tour with Rascal Flatts that resumes March 24 in Calgary, Alberta, and ends Aug. 30 near Pittsburgh. In between, she'll also be performing at several major festivals, including the Stagecoach Festival in Indio, Calif., on May 3 and Summerfest in Milwaukee on June 30.